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Impact of the Decision To Leave the EU

It is now clear that the British people have made the choice to leave the European Union. The countr...


Careers Advice for Horticulture

Have you ever thought of turning your passion for plants into your profession? Whether you dream of becoming a professional gardener or a nursery expert, we tell you all you need to know to get started.

Industry today

With more than 18.5 million gardeners in the UK and an average spend over £2,000 million a year on plants and gardening products, the horticultural industry is big business. It's estimated that there are around 13,000 production horticulture businesses, employing around 70,000 people. The range in size is vast, from small self-employed designers and private nurseries, to large international organisations employing hundreds of people in different locations.

So, as well as the high-profile garden designer, there's a huge range of related career opportunities available. From nursery work to garden maintenance, landscaping and design, as well as amenity horticulture, specialist research and journalism - these are just a few of the areas that offer job opportunities. Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the environmental and land-based sector, says there is a shortage of good recruits in many of these areas. 

What qualifications do I need?

There are a number of different qualifications that are recognised in the horticultural industry, from BTECs, NVQs and SVQs, to RHS certificates, City and Guilds diplomas and degrees. If you don't know where to start, research what is on offer at local colleges and find a recognised course that suits your budget, your available study time and one that will give you a good grounding in your new career.

Learning with the RHS

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offers a very good starting point for many career changers. Each year the society runs more than 3,000 learning events at the four RHS gardens and various venues around the UK. You can take part in hands-on learning activities at all levels or simply learn from the displays.

If you want to learn about horticulture on a more formal basis, there are five levels of examinations you can pursue via the RHS and partner colleges. RHS examinations, from the Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture, to the Master of Horticulture Award, have traditionally been benchmarks in horticultural education and are a nationally recognised accreditation. You can find out more details about the entry requirements and a list of colleges offering the courses on the RHS website.

The RHS also offers traineeships at all four of its major gardens, open to all ages. Every year applications for placements are received from all over the world, and in 2004, 42 new trainees were taken on across the RHS gardens.

Informal learning

You can also improve your horticultural skills by taking part in community projects. There are many different organisations working at a local level, for example Britain in Bloom, BTCV and Trees for Cities. These projects offer a good opportunity to learn from experienced gardeners and are a good way of getting hands-on experience of working outdoors - it's also ideal if you don't have your own garden. Look out for volunteer schemes too, at botanical gardens and stately homes in your area.

Source: BBC News - Careers Advice for Horticulture